Chris Pratt is now a full-fledged movie star, wise-ass talking raccoons and sentient warrior trees are legitimate elements to blockbuster films, and Marvel has another hit with “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
The Marvel Studios film, put out by Disney, made $11.2 million in Thursday night showings that started at 7 pm, a huge number for a new franchise. Rave reviews — director James Gunn‘s film currently has a 91 percent on Rotten Tomatoes — a shrewd marketing campaign in an otherwise slumping summer, and its association with the Marvel juggernaut combined to help to lift “Guardians” to its high opening.
The film made $1.9 million on 354 domestic IMAX screens, the best August pre-release ever and second only to “Iron Man 3” all-time. It is also being released in 42 international markets over the weekend, with strong initial returns in Europe, including $2.3 million in the UK/Ireland.
The number marks the new Thursday high for this summer, surpassing the $9.3 million made by Legendary’s “Godzilla,” which ultimately took in $93.1 million in its opening weekend. The summer’s other big superhero films, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” and “X-Men: Days of Future Past” earned $8.7 million and $8.1 million, respectively, in their Thursday openers. “Spider-Man 2” totaled $91.6 million in its opening weekend; “X-Men” made $90.8 million.
It’s hard to make a direct comparison with Marvel Studio’s other big movie this year, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” as the Chris Evans-starring film was not only a sequel, but a continuation of a character who appeared in the record-setting “Avengers” of 2012. That film made $10.2 million on Thursday en route to a $95 million opener.
A more appropriate comparison could be made to the first “Captain America” film, which made $4 million on Thursday night showings when it opened July of 2011. The first “Thor” made $3.2 million in its Thursday opening that May. Of course, Marvel has since become a much bigger film brand, so “Guardians” certainly stands on those two heroes’ muscular shoulders.
In other opening news, Universal’s James Brown biopic, “Get On Up,” made $371,000 in 1769 theaters. The film, starring Chadwick Boseman and directed by “The Help” helmer Tate Taylor, has earned positive reviews, with an 81 percent on Rotten Tomatoes thus far.
Todd Cunningham contributed to this report.